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I08          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

Ch'in, a country with suspicious barbarian elements in Kansu,
had enabled that country to develop a devilishly efficient war
machine and conquer the whole of China, and had then died
out miserably in two decades when the same type of regime
was applied to the Chinese people en masse. The building of the
Great Wall was so efficient but so inhuman that it cost Ch'in
Shih Huang his empire.

On the other hand, the Chinese humanists preached, and the
Chinese people have always been under, a personal govern-
ment, according to which the deficiencies of a system, the
principle of eking, can always be remedied by "expediency,"
the principle of cKuan. Instead of a government by law, they
have always accepted a government by "gentlemen," which is
more personal, more flexible and more human. An audacious
idea this—it assumes that there are enough gentlemen to go
round ruling the country! Just as audacious is the assumption
of democracy that one can find out truth by a mechanical
count of an odd jumble of opinions of common unthinking
men. Both systems are admittedly imperfect, but the personal
system seems always to have better suited the Chinese humanist
temper, Chinese individualism and the Chinese love of freedom.

This trait, the lack of system, characterizes all our social
organizations, our civil service, our colleges, our clubs, our
railways, our steamship companies—everything except the
foreign-controlled Post Office and Maritime Customs—and the
failure invariably goes back to the intrusion of the personal
element, like nepotism and favouritism. For only an inhuman
'mind, ean unemotional iron face" can brush aside personal
considerations and maintain a rigid system, and such "iron
faces" are not in too great public favour in China, for they are
all bad Confucianists. Thus has been brought about the lack
of social discipline, the most fatal of Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese err, therefore, rather on the side of being too
human. For to be reasonable is synonymous with making
allowance for human nature. In English, to say to a man, "Do
be reasonable," is the same as making an appeal to human
nature as such. When Doolittle, the father of the flower-girl
in Pygmalion^ wants to touch Professor Higgins for a five-pound
note, his appeal is, "Is this reasonable . . . ? The girl belongs